WITH winter just around the corner, households across Winsford are preparing for the warm, cosy nights ahead.

But in many homes, mid Cheshire's most vulnerable residents will be faced with months of struggling to pay for heating and hot food.

For the third year running, Vale Royal Lions is launching its fuel bank campaign, alongside Citizens Advice and the Guardian.

The campaign will offer a helping hand in the cold winter months, by providing payments towards the energy bills of those who struggle to afford it in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich.

Rob Brown, president of Vale Royal Lions, told the Guardian: "Vale Royal Lions' mission is to to serve the community, and over 40 years this has taken many forms.

"While organisations that benefit from this service – such as charities – are usually recognised by name, often when individuals are concerned they are generally unknown.

"Yet in many cases, we have found that it is these members of our community who are most in need.

"One such group is those who cannot afford the extra cost of energy needed in their homes during the winter months, both to provide heat and prepare food.

"We may be surprised at this in today’s society but, talk to Citizens Advice, and they know of many such people."

Money donated to the fuel bank will be ringfenced by the Lions, before Citizens Advice will send the money directly into the prepayment meter or utility account of those who need it most.

In the first year of the appeal, Peter received the money he needed to keep his home warm and his wife feeling better after his wife returned from hospital, while last year single mum-of-three Sarah could cook meals for her family during the school holidays.

Donations are welcome from senior citizens who receive the winter fuel allowance, who can afford to donate some or even all of it, or from other individuals and businesses who can make a contribution.

All donations, no matter how big or small, will be much appreciated by the Lions, Citizens Advice, the Guardian and residents who will enjoy a warmer home for the winter than they would have done without it.

To donate, send a cheque made payable to Vale Royal Lions, and with 'Fuel Bank' written on the back, to Vale Royal Lions, 10 Blandford Drive, Northwich, CW9 8UD.

For more information call 0845 833 8496.